Central Catholic High School tight end Nathan Hebb fights for yardage during Friday's 54-26 loss to Vermilion Catholic in Morgan City. Central Catholic, Division IV's No. 12 seed, will travel to face No. 5 Catholic High-Pointe Coupee in playoff action this week. (The Daily Review/Mico Aloisio)
Turnovers doom CCHS in 54-26 loss to Vermilion Catholic
Vermilion Catholic took advantage of eight Central Catholic turnovers and a big second half to storm to a 54-26 win Friday and clinch the District 7-1A title, going undefeated in district play.
"The kids just played hard and played together," Vermilion Catholic Coach Brady Thomas said of the team's regular season. "We played a lot of teams that had better athletes than we did, but the kids stuck together, bought into what the coaching staff was selling and that's why they've been so successful."
Central Catholic (5-5 overall, 4-2 in district) lost five fumbles and threw three interceptions, while Vermilion Catholic (8-2, 6-0) lost just one fumble and threw one interception.
Central Catholic led 20-14 at halftime, but Vermilion Catholic dominated the second half, outscoring Central Catholic 40-6.
"It was a back and forth game," Central Catholic Coach Tommy Minton said. "We made a couple mistakes in the third quarter ... and then they made a couple big plays in the passing game and jumped up on us. And it was hard for us to come back from it."
Receiver DeDe Gant led Central Catholic with four catches for 107 yards and a touchdown but got injured on a play in the first quarter. Gant also played well at defensive back before his injury, Minton said.
"Our plan coming in (was) to play man coverage,” Minton said. “Then we lose our best man cover guy early in the ball game. He had done a great job up to that point on (Vermilion Catholic receiver Kris Constantine)."
Constantine, who finished with six receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns, didn't have a catch before Gant left the game.
"In the second half, we had a good feel for what they were doing, playing man, and we used our matchups inside," Thomas said. "And they didn't change what they were doing, so that's where we took advantage."
In the first quarter, Central Catholic scored first on an 82-yard pass from Taylor Blanchard to Gant and converted on a two-point conversion with 5:09 to play in the quarter.
Vermilion Catholic answered with a 66-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Lege to Constantine.
On the ensuing kickoff, Central Catholic lost a fumble, which set up another Vermilion Catholic scoring drive, capped by a 30-yard touchdown pass from Lege to Ethan Lege. Vermillion Catholic had a 14-8 lead to end the first quarter.
A 15-yard penalty on the kickoff gave Central Catholic good field position at Vermilion Catholic's 37-yard line. Central Catholic soon scored on a 1-yard run by Chris Singleton to tie the game at 14 with 10:22 remaining in the second quarter.
Vermilion Catholic lost a fumble on the kickoff to give the ball back to Central Catholic, which scored on a 4-yard pass from Blanchard to Caleb Menina. Central Catholic led 20-14 at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Vermilion Catholic's Ethan Lege intercepted a Central Catholic pass, returning the ball to Central Catholic 4-yard line.
J.T. Lege scored on a 1-yard run to give Vermillion Catholic a 21-20 advantage.
But Central Catholic responded with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Blanchard to Tyler O'con, and Central Catholic regained the lead at 26-21 with 7:24 to play in the third quarter.
Then, on Vermilion Catholic's second play of its next drive, J.T. Lege ran the ball 48 yards for a touchdown to put Vermilion Catholic back on top 27-26.
Central Catholic gave the ball back to Vermilion Catholic when Blanchard lost a fumble.
Vermilion Catholic scored on a 39-yard pass from J.T. Lege to Dillon Dupree to extend the lead to 34-26 with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
One more touchdown in the third quarter put Vermilion Catholic up 41-26 to end a 27-point quarter.
Another interception by Vermilion Catholic set up another scoring drive to widen the lead to 47-26 with 8:18 remaining.
Central Catholic fumbled two more times in the fourth quarter.
Kalix Broussard scored on a 30-yard run for Vermilion Catholic to finish the scoring with 1:52 left to play.
Vermilion Catholic had 426 total yards (325 yards passing and 101 yards rushing) to Central Catholic's 349 total yards (165 yards passing and 184 yards rushing).
Chris Singleton rushed for 124 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown for Central Catholic.
The Eagles now will continue their season with a Division IV playoff game Friday at No. 5 Catholic High-Pointe Coupee at 7 p.m. Central Catholic enters the matchup as the No. 12 seed.